The climate discussion is unavoidable these days and I´ve been thinking about this for many years and would like to hear some other thoughts on this.
The amount of gear and instruments that are produced every year is way beyond me. Every year around the same time(s) we get flooded with announcements of new shiny gear that is supposed to induce serious GAS to as many people as possible while the new product basically is the same thing that offers only little (if anything) new to the table. While I totally understand that every synth sounds different and that there are plenty of different workflow philosophies I keep asking myself if it´s really worth it… I´m fairly new to the synth game but I´ve been in the DJ game for more than 20 years now and I just assume that it´s basically the same since all industries follow the same dogma: more, more, more… and when you have more, then even more.
In the DJ business the stagnation has been going on for many years and was only covered up by fancy PR lingo that overused the phrases “next level”, “game changer”, “revolutionary” etc. massively to the point where people just couldn´t hear it anymore. There hasn´t been any innovation in the DJ business since digital vinyl emulations and a few years later the controllers came out. How many times can you shift around the layout of an controller/mixer until you´re back at the beginning and haven´t done anything new but still need to act like it because that´s just how the business runs? And how many ressources are being used to get the basic materials for something that has basically already been around for many years, to get it constructed at the other end of the world and then shipped around the world again in quantities that in most cases exceeds the demand by far because this stupid system makes it more “affordable” to produce in high quantities and just “throw out” the leftover units. I always hated that mindset when ordering stickers or flyers, it´s cheaper to get 1000 flyers printed than 250 or 500 and most of it just ends up in the trash anyway, no matter if you couldn´t spread them all around or if the people throw it away after looking at it for a few seconds.
I think basically the same goes for the synthesizer industry. Now producing gear that has already been made decades ago seems to be popular just so more people have the option of using it. If they actually will is a totally different question and if they really need it… well, that´s a personal decision. I´m not intending to judge here or point fingers because I´m no exception really, I get serious GAS attacks regularly even though I already have a shitload of equipment, records, books etc. The industry spends more money on PR than on research and development because we are easy to play/being pushed into the direction they want us to and so far it worked very well for them.
And even though the awareness for the climate/environmental problem is rising it´s still business as usual and people still want more. Streaming is the next big thing for the DJ´s and the amount of energy the streaming services already consume is literally insane but apparently not insane enough to not have people asking for more. I quit buying vinyl records a few years ago after realizing that I kept buying them to only listen to them once or twice and then put them in the rack to never touch them again. While I keep good care of all my stuff in the end it´s just that: stuff. When we´re gobe that is all that´s left and it becomes worthless. I had a hard reality check last year when my best friend died and I helped cleaning out his apartment. He was a collector and had a shitload of stuff. Records, books, magazines, all kinds of collectables and even though we tried to spread as much as possible amongst our friends to keep some of it and have memories we still had a big container full of stuff that ended up on the landfill. For me that was the turning point to downscale as much as possible when it comes to stuff around the house. I sold hundreds of records (even though it doesn´t solve the problem, the stuff is still there and won´t dissolve into thin air even hundreds of years after I´m gone just as all the other gear that is being produced in the future and all the stuff that is already around), got rid off a lot of books and magazines that were just looking nice in the book rack and sold lots of DVD´s.
If I purchase anything new I try to get the digital version, 99% of the music I buy is on Bandcamp (I still refuse to use Spotify but that´s a different topic), I only buy movies on iTunes and ebooks whereever I can find them. Even though I actually prefer the real physical object the digital version is a compromise I can live with if it helps, even if it´s just a little. And obviously the digital realm has problems of it´s own but that is no surprise since it follows the same dogma as everything and everyone else: more, more, more!
I´m sure I forgot a lot of what I initially thought of writing on this but I´ll try to add it later and I´m sure you guys have enough input yourselves to cover this topic from various points of view and add input on this topic.
What are your thoughts on this whole “new equipment every year” thing, the way it is being produced etc. Do you try to take actions in your everyday life to lessen your personal impact on the environment? And this topic is really just about the music industry, I know that transportation, fashion, industrialized agriculture (this includes meat “production”, a phrase that is symbolic to how we lost respect for a living being and turn it into cold numbers, just like the phrase human capital for workforce), tourism etc. also have their huge impact on this whole mess.
What could be a step into the right direction to solve this? What to do with all the gear that is not being sold? How should companies approach the release of a new device? Should the whole industry scale down and limit itself to 1-2 new devices within a 5 year period to make sure they really have something substantial to offer instead of just flashy words?
And ironically we´re using the internet to discuss this topic on devices that are part of the same problem. But at least we don´t fly around the world to one spot to talk about it without any legal binding to whatever we decide and spend an amount of money on buffet and security that could easily finance a solar panel (for example) on every house in a small town to make them energy independent for most of the year.
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.